We are talking about linking again

I would have thought this had been resolved years ago*. But here we are.

In Is linking just polite, or is it a core value of journalism? Matthew Ingram writes:

Late last week, TechCrunch writer MG Siegler broke the news that Apple was buying an app-discovery service called Chomp — although he didn’t say where that news came from, just that it was a reliable source. The Wall Street Journal reported the same news several hours later, confirmed by an Apple source, but didn’t link to Siegler, who then wrote a profanity-laced tirade criticizing the WSJ for its failure to include a link to him in its story (we at GigaOM, meanwhile, wrote about why the acquisition made sense for Apple, and credited TechCrunch with breaking the story).

I’ve argued before that I think this failure to link is a crucial mistake that mainstream media outlets make, and also an issue of trust …

Meanwhile Reuters links to a Nieman Lab piece giving the whys of linking. (This is 2012, right?)

Jonathan Stray has a great essay up at Nieman Lab entitled “Why link out? Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink”. I basically agree with all of it; links are wonderful things, and the more of them that we see in news stories — especially if they’re external rather than internal links — the better.

It’s very easy to agree that if a story refers to some other story or document, and if that other story or document is online, then it should be hyperlinked. But Stray goes further than that:

In theory, every statement in news writing needs to be attributed. “According to documents” or “as reported by” may have been as far as print could go, but that’s not good enough when the sources are online.

I can’t see any reason why readers shouldn’t demand, and journalists shouldn’t supply, links to all online resources used in writing a story.

To put away the sarcasm for a moment, these are terrific ideals to revisit.

As media exec and NYU professor Jeff Jarvis has been saying for years, this is a link economy:

One more from Jarvis, “Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.”

Think about those two sentences for a bit. I encourage you read Jarvis’ full concept behind them, but consider what that notion should mean to you.

*The cautionary tale of mistaken obit reporting on Joe Paterno earlier this year also proves otherwise.

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